The Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) has welcomed the parliamentary inquiry by the committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology (HEST) into its newly appointed vice-chancellor, Professor Peter Mbati.
“The university will cooperate fully with the Portfolio Committee on HEST during the inquiry. This inquiry will also afford the university, if called upon, the opportunity to submit information at its disposal, and clarify to the inquiry panel of the committee on any of the matters they may need to get to the bottom of the matter,” said spokesperson Dr Eric Pule in a statement on Monday.
This comes after the committee on HEST said in a statement earlier this month that it was outraged by Mbati’s appointment – despite allegations of sexual harassment still hanging over his head.
“The fitness and suitability of Prof Peter Mbati to occupy the high position of Vice-Chancellor of SMU is in serious question. The question is whether the University Council, and all its structures which were responsible for his appointment, were aware of the allegations of sexual harassment before they decided to recommend his appointment,” said chairperson Philly Mapulane.
Mbati was appointed to the position on 24 April by the SMU council and he assumed his role on 1 June.
SMU further defended Mbati’s appointment as “procedurally fair, and the process leading up to his appointment was in line with the provisions of the Higher Education Act, SMU Institutional Statute and applicable university”.
The newly appointed vice-chancellor says that he is glad that the parliamentary committee has decided to institute the inquiry as it will afford him the opportunity to “tell his side of the story”.
“I hope the inquiry will help to surface the real and deep-seated truth behind these vexatious allegation against me.
“It is indeed in the best interest of the university community I now lead, the South African public, the local and global Higher Education community for me to clear my name, once again,” Mbati explained.
He further concluded that he remains committed to leading the SMU project more than ever before and that “as the veil is lifted around this matter, the truth will immediately take its rightful position”.